WWE fans hoped for years that John Cena might one day turn heel and shake up the persona that had utterly dominated the main event scene for over a decade. It never happened, but former WWE writers have revealed over the years that a heel turn was considered at one point and that a few steps were made before the concept was scrapped. Ex-WWE writer Matt McCarthy was recently on the We Watch Wrestling Podcast and talked about the gear Cena had made for the turn. He also mentioned how Vince McMahon wanted the turn to be more like Bret Hart in 1997, who was a heel in the United States but still a beloved babyface in Canada.
"Vince kept trying to figure out how do we do like a Bret Hart thing? Where he's a heel in some places, but he's a babyface in the rest of the places," McCarthy said (h/t WrestleZone). "Cena was like, 'If I'm going heel, I want to go full heel,' and it did get close enough to the point where, and I'm sure he still has this gear, like Cena had gear made for the heel turn, you know? No longer the jorts.
"I don't know what the gear was, but he had specific gear made ready and waiting and then obviously we know it never happened, and there was a point in the discussions where it was like, 'Well, the people who are gonna cheer him are going to continue to cheer him,' (as he is now, as he is, you know, "Never Give Up,") 'and the people who are gonna boo him, are just gonna keep booing him,'" he added. "So the thinking was, that's the most heelish thing he can do is to stay that white meat, smiling, pure babyface..."
Former WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz sat down with ComicBook back in February and denied the long-running rumor that the heel turn was going to happen while Cena feuded with The Rock.
"I guess I'll clarify that by saying I don't think he was ever supposed to have a heel turn," Gewirtz said. "That was never... What was set up from the beginning was the idea of Dwayne coming in, The Rock coming back and doing essentially a three-year WrestleMania program with John.
"Being the guest host that first year in the John/Miz match," he added. "And then John versus Rock in Miami, and then John versus Rock in MetLife. And that was never going to change either... the parameters were always those three elements, which is the single matches and a guest host spot. But John turning heel, that was never, ever, ever set in stone."